Budget 2011: Shakeup of public transport planning and management welcomed

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has welcomed funding for the Coalition Government’s Public Transport Development Authority (PTDA) in today’s State Budget, but expressed disappointment at the lack of upgrades for tram and bus users.

PTUA President Daniel Bowen said that it was critical that the shakeup of planning and management of public transport go ahead to avoid in future the types of problems seen daily by passengers on the network.

“Overcrowding, a shortage of vehicles, poor connections, a lack of services into new suburbs – all of these problems are caused by poor planning”, said Mr Bowen. “It is critical that the PTDA go ahead, and it is critical that it be staffed by the best experts available to get these problems fixed and get our public transport network performing as it should.”

Mr Bowen noted that while the Budget included funding for planning rail projects, a number of road projects were funded for full construction. “This is another indicator of a failure to plan properly. The Department of Transport simply hasn’t been proactive in thinking about how they can expand and develop the public transport network, unlike VicRoads, which has been planning ahead and has road projects ready to go as soon as the money is available.”

However Mr Bowen said it was disappointing that overall new funding for roads outstripped public transport by some 50% [1]. And he said that while a number of worthwhile rail projects had been funded, there was almost nothing for trams and buses.

“This government came to power because of poor public transport. If you travel by rail, there are some good upgrades on the way, but some suburbs will never have rail, and if you rely on trams and buses, there’s nothing for you in this budget.

“There’s no new spending on bus services to new suburbs, no new Smartbuses, no tram extensions or improvements to help get trams and buses out of traffic jams.”

Mr Bowen said that blowouts in the cost of the Regional Rail Link and Myki had crowded out other public transport improvements. “This underlines the need to openly and transparently review those projects and their alternatives, to ensure that we get the biggest bang for our public transport buck.”

Mr Bowen said the PTDA should show the way forward to better planning, and improvements across the board.

“We will be watching as the government implements the PTDA, to ensure it’s got the right powers and the right people to make a real difference. Done right, and with the appropriate backing and funding from government behind it, it’s got the potential to make a tangible, positive difference to train, tram and bus users”, concluded Mr Bowen.

* * *

[1] Government media releases: “Coalition Government delivers $601 million boost for roads”, “Coalition delivers $403 million to get back to basics and fix public transport” budget.eyemedia.com.au/CA25783300199E40/webmediareleases